Diego Salazar Amoretti (Principal Investigator)

Assistant Professor. Florida International University


About me and my research:

Originally born in Costa Rica, I did my undergraduate studies at the University of Costa Rica (UCR) focusing on a rare mix of plant ecology and taxonomy. After my undergrad, I was “initiated” into the amazing world of plant-herbivore interactions (and Piper) by my dear friend Lee Dyer. I continued my studies by pursuing a Ph.D. degree at the University of Missouri St. Louis in the Marquis Lab. During this time I gained a strong interest in community, evolutionary, and Chemical Ecology. After receiving my doctoral degree, I moved to California to work as a Post-Doctoral fellow for Paul Fine’s lab at the University of California Berkeley . Here I expanded my analytical work to include modern high-dimensional and statistical learning approaches to the study of chemically mediate plant-animal interactions. Today, my work centers on hyper-diverse plant genera or species swarms. The extremely high regional and local species richness of these taxa stands in sharp contrast with their lack of variation in morphological and reproductive traits,  as well as their use of available resources and habitat preferences. Pollinated by generalist pollinators, dispersed by generalist dispersers, and thriving in almost identical environmental conditions, these species swarms challenge classical ideas of niche partitioning, limiting similarity, community assembly, and speciation processes. Nevertheless, underneath the surface, these taxa have a rich and highly divergent natural product chemistry, which directly interacts with a distinctive and diverse herbivore fauna. The main body of my research explores the effect that chemically-mediated plant-herbivore interactions have on the patterns of plant species distribution, functional and phylogenetic diversity, and the evolutionary pressures that spawn and maintain these species swarms. I have been challenged to develop a wide range of technical skills including: plant and insect taxonomy, plant chemistry (gas and liquid chromatography mass-spectroscopy), the processing and analysis of multivariate chemical data (metabolomics), molecular biology, phylogenetic and evolutionary data analysis, R programming, and the analysis of high-dimensional data. I have performed extensive fieldwork in Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil.



Diego Salazar Amoretti, Ph.D. // PI
Assistant Professor,

International Center for Tropical Biology
Department of Biological Sciences
Florida International University
Office: Owa Ehan 313
Laboratory: Owa Ehan 313
Phone: 305 348 7316
11200 S.W. 8th Street
Miami, Florida 33199.